Saturday, January 24, 2015 - Multidistrict litigation involving the popular drug Lipitor‘s connection to type 2 diabetes continues to move forward with current lawsuit numbers growing to more than 1,600 cases. The latest status conference took place on January 22, while discovery and witness deposition are underway in preparation for the first bellwether trial slated to begin toward the end of 2015.
Between December 15 and January 15, the number of lawsuits in the Lipitor MDL increased by 8.5 percent and increased the total number of cases from 1,478 to 1604. When the MDL was first transferred to South Carolina before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel in February of 2014, only 56 lawsuits were consolidated into the MDL. The growth in the past month alone nearly triples that figure.
Plaintiffs in the Lipitor lawsuits claim that the statin medication caused some patients to develop new-onset type 2 diabetes. Statin medications, such as Lipitor, are used primarily to lower a patient‘s cholesterol level. Recent studies, such as one published in a 2012 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine 2012, have shown that statin medications can come with serious side effects including muscular complications and diabetes.
The study also showed that those side effects have had a disproportionate affect on women, who are 48 percent more likely to contract type-2 diabetes if they take statin drugs compared to those who don‘t. Other plaintiffs have included in their claims loss of consortium and wrongful death, adding to a growing list of alleged side effects. The lawsuits central allegations claim that the drug‘s manufacturer Pfizer Inc. knew the risk of serious side effects caused by Lipitor, but choose not to disclose the information to consumers in an attempt to protect sales.
There have been disagreements over whether the benefits in taking statin medications for cholesterol outweigh the side effect risks. However, the lack of precautionary labeling was not an item up for debate, and in February 2012 the FDA announced that Lipitor labels must update the information on their warning labels to warn of the connection the medication has with the development of type 2 diabetes.
Plaintiffs claim that Pfizer "negligently, recklessly and/or carelessly" continued to market Lipitor while they were aware of a possible development of diabetes connected to the drug without warning those put at risk. Many of the plaintiffs claim they would not have taken the drug in the first place if they had been sufficiently warned of all the possible side effects.
Lipitor assists in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke in addition to lowering cholesterol, and has been used by millions of people. Despite the FDA‘s assertion that the risk of developing type-2 diabetes is small when taking Lipitor, some medical experts claim that more than 100,000 people who used the drug may be experiencing minor side effects related to the diabetes risk. Those smaller side effects include blurred vision, headaches, frequent infection, in addition to other minor ailments caused by type 2 diabetes.
The early leg work in the Lipitor MDL will continue to go on throughout the year as both sides prepare for the first bellwether trials, expected to take place in October 2015.